Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 8, 2010

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Quotation of the Day

Antiquarian Optimism: 'If You’ve Got the Right Books, They Sell'

"There are a lot of happy dealers.... There's always a good time and a bad time. You always find detractors, people who say it's not like the old days. And I'm sure they said that 500 years ago. Like people are worried about the e-book now, I'm sure 1,000 years ago they were saying books will never take over from scrolls. But life does move on, and if you've got the right books, they sell. The collector is becoming far more sophisticated, which is a good thing. They understand what makes a book rare....

"We're not selling books as functional objects. If you buy a Chippendale chair, you're not buying a Chippendale chair to sit on with a six-pack watching sports on the television.... It's for that tactile feel, it's for that resonance. When you pick up a first edition Dickens, you are making contact with the way Dickens first released his thoughts to the world."

--Adrian Harrington, "the world's foremost purveyor of James Bond first editions," speaking to the National Post during last week's Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair.



PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi


Image of the Day: Injured Author Goes Extra Mile

Last Monday evening, Margaret Maron was scheduled to launch her new book, Christmas Mourning, at Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, N.C., but that morning was in a car accident. She wound up in the hospital with four broken ribs and some bruising, all of it quite painful, but on Wednesday on the way home, she and her husband, Joe, stopped by the store so she could sign books for people who missed her. Here she is on the left (note the hospital bracelet on her right wrist) with Quail Ridge owner Nancy Olson. Maron's original event has been rescheduled for this coming Saturday, November 13.


Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Notes: Random Sublet; BAM's First Yogurt Store In-Store

Random House plans to sublet as many as nine of its 24 floors at U.S. headquarters in New York City--or about 250,000 of 645,000 square feet--the Wall Street Journal reported.

Random House spokesperson Stuart Applebaum estimated the savings as "in the millions of dollars." He told the paper, "We're in the book business, not the real-estate business. We'll reinvest our savings into our publishing."

The publisher has a vacancy rate of 30%, the result of layoffs in the past several years. Still, more than 1,000 people are employed in the building. The company aims to lease higher floors first, starting with "the senior corporate executive floor on 25."

Bertelsmann built and sold 1745 Broadway in 2003 and now leases its space there. The 24 floors above Random House is an apartment complex.


A Yogurt Mountain store has opened inside a Books-A-Million location in Concord, N.C., near Charlotte, the first such Yogurt Mountain inside a BAM. The new Yogurt Mountain, BAM said, "provides shoppers with the option to enjoy a sweet treat while they browse bestsellers, games, toys, puzzles and magazines."

Yogurt Mountain, which franchises and operates self-serve frozen yogurt stores, has four locations in Alabama and North Carolina and was founded in 2009. Earlier this year, BAM made an investment in the company of a $3 million payment and a $1.5 million line of credit (Shelf Awareness, April 18, 2010).


Concerning Thursday's New York appeals court ruling reinstating Amazon's and Overstock's 2008 lawsuit against a state law forcing them to collect sales tax (Shelf Awareness, November 5, 2010), ABA CEO Oren Teicher said that the decision "has upheld what we have long contended--namely, that online affiliates are sales agents and, as such, represent a physical presence in the state that requires such companies as to collect sales tax. The court's ruling clearly and succinctly makes this clear. We fully expect this decision to have significant and positive impact on our efforts in other states. We could not be more pleased with the court's decision."

The case was sent back to lower court, which the appellate court requested obtain more information about the companies' sales in New York.

--- is expected to pay about $500 million and assume $45 million in debt and liabilities to buy Quidsi, parent company of and, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Quidsi reportedly had sales of $180 million last year and expects sales of $300 million this year.


Sam Husain, the CEO of Foyles in London who proudly told the Independent that he probably has never read a book "cover to cover," also proudly noted that in the year ended June 30, Foyles earned £434,588 (about US$730,366) on sales of £23.1 million (US$38.8 million). Sales grew 1.9% while sales at stores open at least a year rose 9.7%.

Foyles also just opened its fifth store, Foyles Booktique, at Land Securities' One New Change shopping mall on Cheapside in the City. Next week it is launching a new website.

"I knew nothing about this business when I took over," Husain, a Pakistan-born accountant who previously worked in TV post-production for Ascent Media, told the Independent. "But I brought with me good business practices."

Husain emphasized that the store's plan to restore profitability at the was already underway when he arrived. "When I joined, we had a three-year plan to get Foyles into profit, which meant getting the right structure, the right people and the right managers on the shop floor," he said. "My task was to get it into sustainable profit mode and to make sure the product was relevant. There is much more sharing of information about the company's profit performance with the managers now, which helps them to identify the key drivers for the business."


Congratulations to Cinco Puntos Press, El Paso, Texas, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The press has "a national reputation with librarians, educators and retailers," Julie Schaper, president of Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, Cinco Puntos's distributor, told the El Paso Times. "Their focus on bilingual books for children is well known. They are also respected for their mission to do books that explore border-related issues."

Bobby Byrd, who founded the press with his wife, Lee, said, "More than anything, Cinco Puntos not only celebrates El Paso but the U.S.-Mexico border as a way of seeing the rest of the world. One thing that was astounding to us was the intellectual and artistic community here, which is very rich but was not really respected in the rest of the Southwest because it was mostly Mexican-American."

Lee Byrd said, "People don't realize we're one of a handful of publishers in the United States that do multicultural literature because we're here and not in New York, where everyone is so intensely competitive, and because we haven't always known what we were doing. We sort of just plunk along, just follow our own instincts about things."


Congratulations to Paul Harding, Bellevue Literary Press and Consortium (and Michele Filgate): Tinkers, Harding's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, has shipped more than 250,000 copies and is back on the New York Times and other bestseller lists. Harding is touring this fall and into the new year.


A memorial service for Larry Ashmead, who died on September 3, will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, November 9, from 4-5:30 p.m. at St. Bartholomew's Church at 325 Park Avenue (at 51st) in New York City. Reception follows at Inside Park, the restaurant contained within the church.


Book trailer of the day: Stranger Here Below by Joyce Hinnefeld (Unbridled Books).


Despite Friday's announcement by Joseph-Beth Booksellers that stores in Pittsburgh and Charlotte are closing (Shelf Awareness, November 5, 2010), the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote that "it's too soon to write off the independent bookseller, say those in the industry."  

"We're not drawing any conclusions from the Joseph-Beth announcement," said Meg Smith of the American Booksellers Association. "It's a tough economy, but we're also seeing companies that are doing quite well."

The Tribune-Review noted that Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, is up 14% compared to 2009, according to general manager Maryanne Eichorn. "We've been gaining all year long," she said. "October was our best non-holiday month since we reopened in September 2008.... We have a loyal customer base and work hard to play a role in the community." And Bradley's Books, which specializes in publisher overstocks and remainders, doubled its store count this year by opening four stores in the Pittsburgh area.


We Love DC showcased its five favorite bookshops because "there remains a vibrant community of book retailing in the Washington area. It may help that we are a very educated, literate group of people, of course." The bookstores featured were Books for America, Red Onion Records & Books, Capitol Hill Books, Bridge Street Books and Politics & Prose.


Oh, that Neil Gaiman! Here's a brilliant Twitter exchange between Neil Gaiman and a " 'midwestern momma' named April Roller," who thought Gaiman's account belonged to actor Neil Patrick Harris. "What happened next may have single-handedly legitimized the existence of Twitter for all eternity," the Daily What observed.


The Motley Fool recommended "5 Books You've Got to Read": The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner, Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes and Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent.


Book DIY of the day: Craft featured a project from Dany Seo's Simply Green Parties that shows you how "to transform a plain craft store birdhouse into a whimsical decor piece, using a children's book."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: George W. Bush on NBC Special, Oprah

This morning on the Today Show: Natalie Cole, author of Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain (Simon & Schuster, $23, 9781451606058/1451606052). She will also appear today on the View and Larry King Live and tomorrow on Fox & Friends.


This morning on Fox & Friends: Michael Waldman, author of My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America's Presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 9781402200274/1402200277). An audio CD narrated by George Stephanopoulos is included with this book.


This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: James Kaplan, author of Frank: The Voice (Doubleday, $35, 9780385518048/0385518048).


Today on the View: Bill Carter, author of The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy (Viking, $26.95, 9780670022083/067002208X).


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Mark Vonnegut, author of Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So: A Memoir (Delacorte, $24, 9780385343794/0385343795).


Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Chris Hedges, author of Death of the Liberal Class (Nation Books, $24.95, 9781568586441/1568586442).


Tonight on an NBC special with Matt Lauer: George W. Bush, author of Decision Points (Crown, $35, 9780307590619/0307590615). Tomorrow the former president will be on Oprah, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity's shows.


Tonight on the Daily Show: Texas Governor Rick Perry, author of Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington (Little, Brown, $21.99, 9780316132954/0316132950).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Reza Aslan, author of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Norton, $35, 9780393065855/0393065855).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Nora Ephron, author of I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections (Knopf, $22.95, 9780307595607/0307595609).


Tomorrow on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: Gerald Blaine, co-author of The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence (Gallery, $28, 9781439192962/1439192960).


Tomorrow on the Bob Edwards Show: Carlos Eire, author of Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy (Free Press, $26, 9781439181904/143918190X).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316001922/0316001929).


Tomorrow on the View: Newt Gingrich, co-author of Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory (Thomas Dunne, $27.99, 9780312591076/0312591071). He will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.


Tomorrow on Dr. Phil: Marion Jones, author of On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed (Howard Books, $25, 9781451610826/1451610823).


Tomorrow on the Rachael Ray Show: Heather Sellers, author of You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594487736/1594487731).


Tomorrow night on Last Call with Carson Daly: Mike Birbiglia, author of Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781439157992/1439157995).


Movie: Morning Glory

This coming Wednesday, November 10, Morning Glory will be released. Directed by Roger Michell and produced by J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk, the movie stars Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson. In the story, a New Jersey morning program producer is fired and lands a job at a national network morning show Daybreak that is floundering. Rachel McAdams fights to save her relationship with a fellow producer, her reputation, her job and the show itself.

Diana Peterfreund has written Morning Glory, an original novelization (Ballantine, $14, 9780345523938/0345523938) based on the screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna.


Books & Authors

Awards: Prime Minister's Literary, Graphic Short Story Winners

This year's Prime Minister's Literary Awards, which recognize "the contribution of Australian literature to the nation's cultural and intellectual life [and] literature's importance to our national identity, community and economy," went to:

Children's fiction: Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood
YA fiction: Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God by Bill Condon
Fiction: Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
Nonfiction: The Colony: A History of Early Sydney by Grace Karskens


Stephen Collins's Room 208, a "strikingly illustrated tale of listless lovers on their honeymoon," won this year's Cape/Observer Graphic Short Story prize, the Guardian reported, noting that "Collins, who did not go to art school and insists that he is still a relative newcomer to the world of comics, lists among his influences 'everyone from Gary Larson to Raymond Briggs to Ronald Searle to Jenny Saville' (though the judges felt we saw clear evidence in Room 208 of the brooding influence of the great American cartoonist, Charles Burns)."


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney's, $29, 9781934781821/1934781827). "The Instructions is a brilliant, virtuoso literary performance that is wildly entertaining from beginning to end--from page one to page 1,024! It is ambitious, provocative, touching, hilarious and sad, which leads to an exhilarating and extremely powerful reading experience."--Ed Conklin, Chaucer's Books, Santa Barbara, Calif.

After the Falls: Coming of Age in the Sixties
by Catherine Gildiner (Viking, $25.95, 9780670022052/0670022055). "Continuing her memoirs in the same frank and funny tone as her previous book, Too Close to the Falls, Gildiner recounts her experience coming of age in the 1960s. She copes with an unhappy move to Buffalo with her family, vandalizes neighborhood houses in a misguided attempt to bring about social change, goes off to college, and deals with a tragedy at home. Gildiner's personal narrative is a tour through the 1960s, revealing the political unrest and social movements that defined the era."--Erica Caldwell, Present Tense, Batavia, N.Y.


The Love Godess' Cooking School: A Novel
by Melissa Senate (Gallery, $15, 9781439107232/1439107238). "I actually live on two different islands and really enjoyed the fictional life depicted on Blue Crab Island, Maine. Melissa Senate has captured the voices and unique community of 'Camilla's Cucinotta' with all of the quirks of family, love, and friendship. I wish Holly Maguire was available to come on over with her grandmother's wisdom, her joy of cooking, and her recipes, which are included in this delightful book!"--Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books and More, Washington Island, Wis.

For Teen Readers

Beat the Band by Don Calame (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763646332/0763646334). "The winning trio from Swim the Fly is back for their sophomore year, which promises to follow along Coop's 'Natural Order of Things.' Unfortunately, things don't go quite as planned when Coop gets paired with the infamous 'Hot Dog' Helen for a presentation on safe sex. How will he regain his cool? Hilarious, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is required reading for anyone who has ever been, known, or laughed at a teenage boy."--Rachel Haisley, the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: The Habitation of the Blessed

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne Valente (Night Shade Books, $14.99 Paperback, 9781597801997, October 2010)

In the late 12th century, a document circulated in Europe purporting to be a letter to the Byzantine Emperor from "Prester John," the ruler of a magical kingdom in India, where one would find not only elephants and camels but also "centaurs, fauns, satyrs, pygmies" and other astonishing creatures. Though the legends were eventually debunked, their hold on the imagination has not lessened. A few years ago, Umberto Eco's Baudolino offered a semi-satirical version; now Lambda-winning fantasy author Catherynne M. Valente has begun a trilogy that combines Eco's fascination with texts and voices with a more earnest take on Prester John's story.

Valente begins with the "confessions" of Hiob von Luzern, a missionary and explorer who, more than 600 years after the letter's appearance, still hopes to find John. "We told each other that he was as strong as a hundred men," Hiob writes, "that he drank from the Fountain of Youth, that his scepter held as jewels the petrified eyes of St. Thomas." Instead, Hiob finds, in a remote village, a tree that grows books, from which he is allowed to pluck three volumes. The first, "The Word in the Quince," is Prester John's own account of his strange adventures, while the next, "The Book of the Fountain," offers the counter-perspective of Hagia, a blemmyae (headless beings whose faces are found on their torsos) who eventually becomes John's wife. Finally, "The Scarlet Nursery" is the memoir of Imtithal, a nursemaid who tells her young charges stories of their homeland. As with any fruit, however, the books are quick to spoil, and Hiob must rush from one volume to the next, hoping to translate and transcribe their contents before they completely deteriorate.

The three stories (and Hiob's attempt to recount them even as they tear away at his faith) interweave marvelously. As John describes his initial fascination with the angels and talking lions of this new land, which he believes might be the Garden of Eden, Hagia recalls her frustration at how John wouldn't stop proselytizing--since everybody in this land can be planted in the ground after their death and return as a tree, nobody has much use for a story about Christ's resurrection. Meanwhile, Imithal's story, which was written centuries earlier, incorporates legends about the Apostle Thomas and his journey to this same kingdom, setting up John's quest to find Thomas's grave, with Hagia and friends in tow. (There's also a more intimate connection between the three books, which Valente doles out slowly, in an exquisite reveal.) While the ending of The Habitation of the Blessed leaves some ambiguity on just how Prester John's story will continue in subsequent volumes, anyone who reaches that point will be eager to discover Valente's solution.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: As Valente's audience in the fantasy community continues to grow, her expert handling of the historical legends surrounding Prester John may be just the thing for readers who shun genre but embrace magic realism in their literary fiction.


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